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Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Important Time Sensitive Questions for Steve Wieck and OBS

I'm not really around right now.  Half the time I'm not on this planet just now; so it pisses me off to no end that I can't look at this bullshit of OBS' (that is to say, RPGnow and DrivethruRPG's) new policy of "there'll be a big button ANYONE CAN PUSH and instantly make a product go away by claiming it's offensive", and just use the old Polish saying of 'not my circus, not my monkeys'.

But of course, it is my circus. First, because a year ago when the "gamergate card game" thing happened and OBS bent over backwards for censorship advocates I predicted that this was only the start of a slide to something that would let the likes of Fred Hicks be the one who gets to choose for all of us what we're allowed to read or not in RPGs.  With all the witch hunts and double standard hypocrisies and excuses for artsy games by politically sensitive indie authors (when they make a game about raping dead cabin boys, it's totally ok because they're the RIGHT people, and not filthy evil D&D gamers) that would imply.

And also, of course because on a personal note the people pushing for the "Big Red Ban Anything You Don't Like Button" are all the people who despise me.

So here's my message for Steve Wieck and the crowd at OBS:
Hi +Steve Wieck​ !
Here's the thing: My games have neither rape nor anything else vile in them.  They're not misogynist or homophobic (one of them has the first heroically depicted transgender character on the cover of an RPG rulebook ever).  But there's a gang of complete shitheads who despise me because I disagree with them about RPGs and have thwarted and proven my way better than theirs each and every time.
Just how long do you think it will be before they swarm your "report" button to get every single thing I've ever written blackballed from your site thanks to your shitty new policy?    You claim you'll reinstate it if nothing is really offensive, but how long will that take? If they strategically do it when there's some sale period or something like that, who makes up for my lost sales?  How will your "Censorship first, ask questions later" policy protect people from harassers out to use your ill conceived bit of mental diarrhoea to attack people they don't like?  I urge you to answer, and quickly, because your answer or lack thereof will determine my next move.

You have 18 hours to provide an answer to my satisfaction before I assume you have no intention to do so.


Currently Smoking: Dunhill Shell Diplomat & Solani Aged Burley Flake

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Monday, 31 August 2015

10th Anniversary Classic Rant: The RPGPundit's "The Goggles do Nothing Law"

RPGPundit's "The Goggles Do Nothing" Law of Game-Mastering

Over at theRPGsite, I've gotten into an extensive debate with the Swine; apparently, they've decided to make what we could only optimistically hope is their last stand on that site over the subject of my hatred of R. Borgstrom's Nobilis game, and her writing in general.

Though really, I'm guessing it'll be far from their last stand. I've whupped their asses over and over again, but they never seem to tire of it. They always come back for more, like the good little gang of masochists they are. Trying and trying over and over again at something I know and they must certainly know by now is doomed to failure.

Speaking of which, that's the nature of the fight we're having.  The Monarda Law, which I've written a counter-law for (the "Rebecca Borgstrom is a Moron Law"), essentially states that a GM is forbidden from EVER saying "no" to his players.
Of course, this is so unplayable as to be utterly absurd, and is evidence of the hole in Borgstrom's head.
However, most of the Nobilis Swine try to reinterpret this law as meaning "you can say absolutely anything to your players, other than the literal word formed by the letters "n-o", including anything that essentially means no".
Which makes the law absolutely meaningless.

GrimGent, over on theRPGsite, has a very particular interpretation, his own little attempt to make the law palatable and useable and to defend it from reality.  In his parallel universe's version of things, the Monarda Law means "you have to let your players explore every possible action they want to take, you can't just say no "no that wouldn't work" to them; you must instead ask them "how would you do this", or "yes, but.." or "well, you could TRY".  The idea is again based on some kind alternative 60s-hippie child-education principle, that somehow kids will best learn if they are allowed to "explore their mistakes", that even if the teacher knows that 2+2 definitely doesn't equal 5, she should let the children "explore" their answer, and reason it out, rather than just saying "no, sorry, its 4" and going on. Because to do the latter would somehow "stymie the child's creativity" and "hurt the child's self-esteem".

Of course, I would say this is a king-rat stupid fucking idea even for children, put forth by a gang of marxist ruffians who wanted to destroy civilization.  But it's even more stupid when you consider that in RPGs, we're talking about fucking adults here.  There's no reason to allow adults to explore their fucking mistakes, if you know that what they're trying to do is doomed to failure. It's just a stupid idea, that wastes time, and gives your players faulty ideas about the world. And THAT; dear reader, is the true "cardinal sin" of the Game Master, not saying no to them as Becky Borgstrom alleges in her stupid Monarda Law.

So in honour of both Borgstrom and Grimgent, I have decided it's time for a new addition to RPGPundit's laws of no-nonsense game mastering.

The law is basically this:

The "The Goggles Do Nothing" Law
Anytime you already know that a possible GM-player interaction regarding a PC's desired action will lead to nothing, don't bother with it. You're only wasting your time, the player's, and everyone else's.  If you, as the GM, already realize that a particular plan can NOT work, then simply tell that to the player, instead of trying to create the "placebo" of giving the player the illusion that his intended action would somehow have a chance of succeeding.

There you go.
The Law's title is, of course, inspired by the famous quip in the Simpsons, where Ranier Wolfcastle is given a pair of plastic protective-goggles to protect against a rushing flood of acid.  Naturally, and obviously to anyone who saw the onrushing river of acid, the "goggles" were only a useless placebo.  Unfortunately, Wolfcastle only realizes this at the last second as he's being swept away by the current of acid, screaming "Arrgh, the Goggles do Nothing!" in his typical Arnie-accent.

It's the same with players.  If you, as a GM, insist on trying to "let them try" every single hairbrained idea a player has, because Borgstrom or some other second-rate game writer has told you so, you are only engaging in useless busywork that slows down the whole process of the game.  If you have to spend ten or twenty minutes spoonfeeding and handholding your players every time that they think up an idea you already realize as GM is doomed to failure, you are only taking up ten or twenty minutes of their lives and yours for no meaningful end.  And what's worse, you are telling them that they can't trust you with presenting them an accurate vision of their Player Character's perception of the world.

PCs depend on the GM to be their senses, the way the GM describes the world and their perception of the world is the only thing they've got.  So if the player is trying to shoot at something that the GM knows is too far out of range for him to possibly hit it, but the GM spends 15 minutes letting the Player "work it through" himself, all that does is tell the player that the GM can't be trusted to tell the player that his PC realizes a shot wouldn't hit.  The GM is reducing the player's PC to an idiot. For you see, thinking up an idiotic thought doesn't make one an idiot, its following through on that thought before/instead of being able to reason that it would not work, that's what makes one an idiot. And that's exactly what GrimGent's little scheme does to players. If you aren't going to use something like the Monarda Law to actually allow the players to define reality (which sucks for all kinds of other reasons), then using the Monarda Law at all, especially how GrimGent implies one should use it, only results in a smokescreen that turns your players into idiots because you fail in your duty as a GM to tell the players what they are or are not capable of doing.

Your player's aren't idiots, nor are they children, much less the sensitive spoilt children that Borgstrom or Grimgent would like you to think they are. They're grown-ups, they can handle being told "no".  It will usually, in my experience, push them to try another idea. Possibly a better one than the first idiocy that might spring to mind. Or, at the very least, it will lead the players to move on with things, rather than lingering, stuck in a moment, trying to accomplish something that you know they can't possibly accomplish.

So there you are, trust your players enough to say "no" to them.

I guess to some this sounds pretty radical, but its really just what great GMs have been doing for the last 30+ years. It'll certainly get you further than Borgstrom's pathetic mollycoddling philosophies, or Grimgent's poorly-thought-out interpretations thereof.


(originally posted november 17, 2006)

Friday, 28 August 2015

DCC Campaign Update: All my Friends are Dead

This past session came as close to a TPK as our DCC campaign has ever seen. By the end of it, almost everyone was dead. How did this happen?

Like this:

1. The PCs started out in a monastery they decided (in a spurt of optimism) was not really an "Evil Monastery" so much as a "Good monastery that had made some bad choices" and fallen in with the wrong crowd.

2. They found their former accountant Serath had now become a Cleric.  He's a neutral cleric, which means he's not really into it but just treats it as a job.

3. Said Neutral Cleric was determined never to sacrifice gold for divine approval. He's more of a "prosperity Christianity" style of cleric.

4. The PCs slept in the monastery, but not before demonstrating a that they live a life of stunningly troubling paranoia.

5. Schul the rogue found three evil-looking black scrolls in the monastery library, in a skull-motif cabinet.  He decided "this doesn't really look evil at all"!

6. The PCs find an ominous looking hidden shrine to the Lord of Death.  The Neutral Cleric proceeds to use it as the bathroom.

7. They find another set of secret underground rooms, and start to realize that finding hidden doors is easier than assumed.

8. They start to get a bit too bored when the first underground rooms they find are exciting locales like the cloak room, pantry, and the monastery well-cistern.

9. They totally fail to spot, in their rush, the Mutant Sewer Octopus Thing in the cistern.  The Neutral Cleric barely survives, but his brain damage reduces him to a vegetable and it's time for a mercy kill.  Monastery 1, PCs 0.

10. They find an underground river, where a venerable old yogi has been meditating in perfect stillness for 12 years. Of course, they decide to poke him with the hallucinogenic staff until he's forced to break his trance just shy of achieving nirvana. 

11. They learn from the highly annoyed yogi that somewhere deep in the underground complex of the mountain below the monastery there is an Arch-Gate to the Qlippothic Netherword, as the monks call it; or as it is known to Clerics, the Recycle Bin.  If you can get through the Arch-gate, and get through all the insanely dangerous ordeals in the realm of death, you could theoretically try to resurrect a daemon that has been deleted.  The PCs immediately decide it might be a cool idea to resurrect Tiamat, in spite of the fact that they were peripherally involved with the selfsame dudes who betrayed and murdered her.

12. They go back up for a rest, and meet three newbies who were lost and made their way to the monastery gate. They're 2 mutants and a halfling; and the party debates whether that makes them "Two and a half-man" or "two and a half half-men". 

13. Ack'basha the Cleric immediately press-gangs them into the party.

14. Ack'basha also tries to sell the newcomers on joining his crusade to defeat Sezerkan and recover the Sacred USB Cable that would restore the world, and purge it of all the abominations... you know, abominations like mutants, and halflings.

15. Ack'basha also tries to convert the newcomers, and is thus reminded that all Halflings are New Atheists. And Cannibals. 

16. The PCs do note that this particular Halfling seems stunningly well versed in philosophy (albeit of the sophomoric 1st-year-philosophy-student variety) for a half-feral murderous savage.

17. They go back down into the dungeons, and almost immediately run into some really big hobgobins.  They assume that these are locals at first, but will eventually learn that these goblinoids are here because they too are looking for the Arch-Gate; to resurrect the daemon they worshipped.

18. They get into a rumble with these goblins, resulting the party getting the shit kicked out of them, killing the halfling and Mutant 2, and with most of the rest of the the party being captured. Monastery 3 PCs 0.

19. The captured PCs learn the tradition of how the goblins elect their replacement chief (the former chief having died in the fight); which consists of the two main candidates beating each other with rocks until one is left standing.

20. The goblins also run into the Yogi, who kicks the shit out of them with some powerful magic.

21. The remaining free PC manages to convince the Yogi to help, which he does by randomly summoning a trio of Religious Fantastics.  All named Nigel, of course.

22. The 3 Nigels' rescue attempt, consisting of charging straight at 20 goblins, proves disastrously ill-thought out. 

23. Ack'basha the cleric's attempt to use his cursed power rings doesn't work out as planned.

24. Ack'basha then remembers his powerful holy beads, which cause harm to any chaotic being they even touch, so he proceeds to gently carress his captors with it to surprisingly great effect.

25. Ack'basha then proceeds to cast a darkness spell in the surrounding area, and everything turns into a massive clusterfuck of a melee.

26. The rescue attempt having failed, Mutant 1 goes nuts, runs away, and then in a bout of murderous insanity tries to kill the Yogi with a canoe oar.

27. The Yogi survives, goes murderously insane too, and ends up beating Mutant 1 to death with a wooden begging bowl.  Monastery 4, PCs 0.

28. Ack'basha gets away, gets his armor on, goes back to the Goblin's base-camp, kicks the crap out of the goblins there, and takes their stuff.

29. The remaining goblins still in the dungeon find and finally kill the badly-wounded Yogi.

30. Schul the rogue, who had been hiding out, attacks the remaining goblins in a desperate attempt to recover all the party's stuff before they get away.  He kills the new chief with a very well placed two-handed Axe-backstab. Unfortunately, the rest of the goblins make their morale check and butcher him. Monastery 5, PCs 0.

31. The few surviving goblins decide to high-tail it out of the monastery and off the mountain.  Ack'basha the Cleric is literally the Last Man Standing.  Monastery 5, PCs 1.

It remains to be seen whether Ack'basha will be led by these tragic events to consider whether his blood-vendetta against Sezrekan is in some way responsible for the loss of all his friends and allies.  But my bet is on no. He'll probably figure out a way to blame it all on Sezrekan too.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Oversize + H&H's Beverwyck

Thursday, 27 August 2015

10th Anniversary Classic Rant: Uruguay's Coke Problem

You see, our wonderful trucker's union decided to go on strike.  Likewise, I believe, various unions related to beverage companies.  Essentially, that meant nothing was getting anywhere, because in this country its strictly prohibited to either break or get around (scab) a strike.

That meant no Coca-cola. And for a gang of hardcore Coke nuts like my gaming group, that could be disasterous. We are usually not just fanatics but connoisseurs; rather than buying the bigger plastic 1.5 or 2lt bottles, we prefer the 1Lt GLASS bottles (if you've never tried coke out of a glass bottle, you don't know what you're missing, there's a huge difference between that and plastic; or, god forbid, aluminum cans).

But by my Thursday game all that was left in the local supermarket was Fanta. So we were stuck drinking Nazi-cola. We bit the bullet and drank it, because we were taken by surprise and because there was really no alternative.

But now, Saturday, I go to the supermarket and all I see there is Diet Fanta.I shit you not. The drinks section, literally, had only some bottled water, the some 1Lt bottles of the poorest brand of uruguayan beer, and (for soft drinks) DIET FUCKING FANTA.
I mean, shit, I didn't even know that a "Diet Fanta" existed until know! It was a kind of dark knowledge I could have done without, let me tell you!

Not just that, but the fuckers had an ample supply, several dozen bottles spread around to try to fill the otherwise empty shelfspace. But of course they had plenty of that; I mean what kind of sick out of his mind fucker would drink DIET FANTA???

I mean, fucking hell... are you serious?! Who the fuck says "I want an uber-sugarry vaguely-organge flavour drink made completely and entirely out of artificial substances... but let's make it a light."
Sure, technically that kind of mockery could apply to any "diet" soft drink, and I basically find all of the concepts of "diet" soft drinks absurd (if you really want to watch your health, you wouldn't be drinking soda in the first place, diet or not), but it just seems particularly absurd with fucking Fanta!

Fuck that, I told myself. There are limits to every man, and this was mine. I would find Coke even if it kills me.
So I spend the next couple of hours trudging around to every little corner store, kiosk, everywhere I could find, trying to get my hands on some coke. Finally I found several bottles worth, including a couple of my precious 1Lt Glass bottles, in a bakery.  Possibly the last place in all of Montevideo where you could still get Coke legally.

Fucking goddamn unions.

And don't think that its just (admittedly) non-essential stuff like Coke that they're allowed to shut down. Oh no.
I mean, for fuck's sake, on Thursday the gas stations literally shut down because they had no more petrol to sell.  Apparently, neither the government nor the big oil companies nor anyone else was able or allowed to get someone to ship gas to a city of 1.5 million people.

Incidentally, some of  you might not be familiar with Uruguayan geography. Here's a little lesson: Uruguay has a series of river networks that are highly navigable, and a massive coastline that wraps around more than 2/3rds of the country.
It also is mostly flat land (there are barely any hills in Uruguay's pampas, and not a single mountain). You know, the sort of terrain that would be absolutely IDEAL for a railroad?

And yet, the entire country is held hostage to the whims of the fuckers in the Trucker's Union!  Why? Because over the course of decades they have made sure that no alternate method of shipping was ever allowed to survive or get off the ground, by the same kind of stronghand tactics that they are using now.

And they aren't the worst of this gang of syndicational fuckwits, not by far. You have no idea what the Public Employee's Union is like.  There isn't a politician, left, right or centre, that dares move a pinky against them.
Yes, I'm living in fucking Minrothad (reference for all you Mystara nuts).
This isn't a democracy, its a guildocracy.

I mean, how the fuck does this country have a military dictatorship for 11 years and NOT manage to break the backs of the unions??
(Well, I guess I must recall that this was the same military dictatorship to hold a rigged "referendum" election and LOSE it; so they weren't exactly the brightest junta in the bunch)

How the fuck have these gang of shitheads, who aren't left or right wing (though they often dress up in left-wing drag, when needed; even though in reality all they care about is their own power and fortune), managed to subvert the entire country and its best interests?

As usual, I'm sure they'll be getting whatever they want, moving Uruguay one step closer to economic ruin. But meanwhile, I have managed to raise my head high, and say that I beat their embargo.
Today, my players drink Coke.


(originally posted october 29, 2006)

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

A big Dark Albion Review!

This one is from a guy who also did a game with the word "Albion" in it, so he knows some of what he's talking about when he praises my book's detail.

He doesn't like the Frogmen though, which I guess is his right, but really, what would be the point of making a super authentic 15th Century European setting from an English point of view if you can't make fun of the French?!

Anyways, go check it out!


Currently smoking:  Neerup Egg & Image Perique

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Everyjoe Tuesday: (airport) security vs. liberty edition

Today's Everyjoe article is about how you're going to have to live with a reality of an insecure world either way.  Just that one way, you won't also spend it being groped by a functional illiterate with government sanctioned authority.

Please share, plus one, retweet, etc. as always!


Currently Smoking:  Lorenzetti Poker & C&D's Crowley's Best